California Lawmaker Introduces Resilient Homes Initiative

April 2, 2019

A bill to that would enable the California Earthquake Authority to expand mitigation programs is making its way through state Legislature.

State Sen. Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, this week released the details of the Resilient Homes Initiative, an effort he announced earlier this year, on the 25th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake.

The legislature created the CEA in 1996 to better prepare Californians against the widespread devastation that rocked the Los Angeles region during the Northridge quake. Since their Brace & Bolt program launched in 2014, the CEA has been able to retrofit over 4,000 homes in Los Angeles County alone.

The Resilient Homes Initiative, Senate Bill 254, would make the necessary changes to the CEA’s financial structure to expand mitigation programs.

The Resilient Homes Initiative would enhance CEA’s existing claim-paying capacity by adding a new, lower cost alternative to reinsurance and other existing tools. CEA will in turn make annual payments in exchange for this new capacity, with the funds (estimated to be between $70-$100 million) being devoted to pre-earthquake retrofit and mitigation programs in “High Seismic Risk Zones.”

Those supporting the initiative say it will increase funding to dramatically expand the existing Brace & Bolt program, and develop new programs to help households in high-risk areas.

The bill also empowers the CEA to collect small assessments on insurance premiums on policies covering property and risks in the same “High Seismic Risk Zones” only in the event of an earthquake of unprecedented magnitude and damage.

“We know that California will be hit again someday by a powerful, damaging earthquake, and a home built prior to 1980 that has not been seismically retrofitted is like a ticking time bomb,” Glenn Pomeroy, CEO of the CEA, said in a statement. “Taking aggressive steps now to strengthen these homes will help save homes and lives when that inevitable day arrives.”

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